Letters of recommendation

I am often asked to write letters of recommendation, and I take pride in writing them well. Here are some things you can do to help me write a very strong letter for you.


I appreciate having two to three weeks’ advance notice before the deadline, especially if I have not written a letter for you before. (If you need additional letters, I can usually send these out with much less advance notice.) However, you should feel free to ask me even if the deadline is less than two to three weeks away.

What I need

q         Due dates

q         The name of the program/s you are applying to.

q         For internships, fellowships, and jobs: a brief description or link to the web page.

q         Please complete the required information (coordinates, name of the program, etc.) about yourself and myself in the form/s.

q         Your resume.

q         Any specific items or special skills that you’d like me to mention in the letter –e.g., specific coursework, extracurricular experience, internships, language skills, etc.

q         A copy of your application essay usually helps.

q         A list of the courses that you took with me.


 Why do I need these things?

All of these items help me write a stronger letter for you and to tailor it to the particular program, because they let me see what qualities the programs are looking for. For instance, if a program says it values “strong quantitative and analytical skills”, I can mention that in the letter. Your resume or application essay often gives me additional items I can highlight.

Following up

I will let you know, usually by email, when I have the letters ready for you to pick up or for me to send out. If you haven’t heard from me a few days before the deadline, feel free to send me an email or come to my office to remind me. Finally, I’d appreciate hearing news of the outcome of your applications.

I hope these steps will help me write the strongest possible letter for you. Thanks!